Police Caught Falsifying More Than a Quarter Million Breath Tests

Police Caught Falsifying More Than a Quarter Million Breath Tests

Victoria Police was caught falsifying more than a quarter million roadside breath tests over a five-year period.  The claim is that the officers did this to meet quotas or to highlight their productivity.  At the end of the month, when quotas had not been met, officers would set up ad-hoc roadblocks to test motorist’s breath or make as many traffic stops as possible.  Another option for police officers was to fake a series of tests.  They would do this one of three ways, either by blowing into the handheld roadside breath testing unit (PBT) themselves, holding the unit outside a window of a moving car, or even simply placing a finger or thumb over the inlet to “trick” the PBT into believing a breath sample was being received.  The claim is that none of the fake tests were involved in any drunk driving arrests and that the results of such fake tests were not used in court.

A spokesperson for the Victoria Police claimed that they do not set quotas for officers. They acknowledged however that local managers may set their own targets.  The police union claims all this faking occurred due to overly demanding workloads and expectations.  In some instances, police were expected to collect as many as 50 breath samples in a single shift.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) had a part in uncovering this and other abuses with Victoria Police and expressed deep concern that Victoria Police had developed a culture where such abuses were not only commonplace but unofficially sanctioned.

It is unclear what exactly lead to these abuses being uncovered or how the investigation was conducted.  Apparently one of the investigative techniques involved examining the patterns of the testing. In this way, statisticians were able to observed irregularities in the way the police were reporting their breath tests. It is also unclear why the police seem so convinced that no citizens were impacted by the abuses.  The news stories suggest that all this falsifying was done simply to gird the numbers thereby making the police officers look more effective.  Victoria Police further claim that no prosecutions have been impacted by their misdeeds. Because of the abuses, Victoria Police have lost four million dollars in road safety funding.

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